Oh No, Not Again
So, there is another case being made for one of the contenders for the Shakespeare Mantle.
But I have some questions. If Mary Sidney had the means, motive, and opportunity to write the plays, if “she fostered a literary circle whose mission was to elevate English literature,” then why then did she not pursue their publication more assiduously — or at all? Why did she leave it to others to anthologize the plays, rather than supervise the publication herself? Indeed, why did she let some of the plays be published only in pirate editions? And of course, why did she not take credit for their authorship — why did Shakespeare’s name come to be attached to these plays in the first place?
Only people immersed in typographic literacy, only people who have internalized the notion of language-as-thing, identity-as-discrete-object, would fall victim to the echo chamber and circular logical fallacies inherent in the Authorship Question. Who wrote Hamlet? Shakespeare. Who was Shakespeare? The author of Hamlet. Aiii! getawayfromthemirrors — they just go back and back and back! Agh, the snake is eating its own tail! How can we get out? I can’t breathe!
A-and, if we don’t know who the author was, then… how can we be sure… that there’s such a thing as identity? What if the Self is just a construct of social context, vaporous and ephemeral? Maybe I don’t exist either. I mean, who is “me” anyway? That guy from California? The condescending waiter at that shitty new restaurant on 6th Avenue? Once the two or three people (besides myself) who know who I am, and who can tie me to a social and historical here-and-now “me,” once they too slip into oblivion, then anybody at all will be able to claim that they are me, and that I am not, and I mean not. Oh god, maybe it’s true: that we really know nothing; that reality is brute, voiceless; that just because we have managed to carve some markings onto the headstone, it’s still simply sediment from ageless seas, shallow, placid, and unremembered… Help I’m a Rock!
Is it possible that the author of Shakespeare’s play is none other than… the author of Shakespeare’s plays?…